Chemistry at Work 2014

 July 02 2014 | Views: 1796

Kent and Medway

On Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd July 2014, students from 21 secondary schools in the Kent and Medway area took part in a “Chemistry at Work” event. Kent & Medway STEM organised the day on behalf of the Royal Society of Chemistry with the aim of showing the students how chemistry studied at school is put into practical use in the everyday world.  The event was hosted by Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) at the North Holmes Road Campus.

School pupils watched and took part in demonstrations and interactive presentations from local companies and organisations that use chemistry in their work.  The programme was varied and included diverse presentations such as: ‘Which is the Sweetest Strawberry?’ by Hugh Lowe Farms; and ‘Chemistry With a Bang!’ by QinetiQ Group Plc.

South East STEMNET Regional Manager, Dr Ajay Sharman said “It was a delight to attend the recent instalment of Chemistry at Work, organised by the STEMNET contract holder based at CCCU. Introducing pupils to the excitement of chemistry, particularly from the local chemical industry, with many sessions being led by STEM Ambassadors, is crucial and demonstrated the diversity of inspiring chemistry.  Interactive, practical activities from the science of brewing to explosives detection and forensic chemistry, helped to bring the relevance of chemistry taught in schools to real world applications.  FREE STEM Ambassadors, accessible to all schools, can genuinely help to inspire a new generation of chemists”.

A teacher who attended the event said “Students thoroughly enjoyed the day and came back with a renewed enthusiasm and motivation for chemistry. The day built on chemistry that had been learned in the classroom and matched it to possible careers”
Various departments at CCCU supported the event: Geographical and Life Sciences presenting ‘Powering Life – The Light Absorbers!’; Maria Elsam and one of her students from Primary Education had students making toothpaste in ‘Can you make toothpaste that stays on your toothbrush AND cleans your teeth?’; The Sports Lab team demonstrated to students how the cardiovascular system adapts to make athletes super human; The Department of Law and Criminal Justice Studies gave students the opportunity to investigate crime scenes and analyse finger prints at the presentation ‘Forensic Science’.

Peakdale Molecular and Pfizer, companies from the Discovery Park in Sandwich, also attended. Peakdale Molecular taught the students about Extraction, distillation and crystallisation in ‘Disappearing and Reappearing Crystals’ while in the Pfizer presentation, ‘Drastic Plastic’, students learnt about IR spectroscopy, what different recycling symbols mean and why some common household plastics are currently not recycled.  Axia Chemicals, allowed students to try a variety of experiments in ‘Chemical Elements and their Compounds’, and Kent Science Resource Centre, tasked students with investigating sodium alginates ability to form a gel in the presence of calcium chloride. This presentation was entitled, ‘Worms, Seaweed and the Food Industry!’ These companies are based at the Kent Science Park, Sittingbourne.

Everyone enjoyed sampling different strawberries from Hugh Lowe Farm, the provider of all the strawberries at Wimbledon. In their presentation ‘Which is the Sweetest Strawberry?’, students used refractometers and learnt how farmers grow different tasting strawberries.

Students were able to experience and learn much about heat and explosions.  Practical demonstrations using a ship pan vehicle and theoretical learning about boiling liquid and expanding vapour explosions was led by the Kent Fire and Rescue Service. Key Stage Solutions presented an hour long lecture ‘Inferno –The Science of Fire!’ with plenty of exciting and unusual fire demonstrations. QinetiQ Group Plc gave students an insight into a career in explosives with their presentation ‘Chemistry With a Bang!’ that looked at controlled explosions in fireworks and car air bags.  Pupils then had an opportunity to try ‘Explosives Detection’ with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

Sandberg LLP gave a talk related to the Channel 4 series ‘Help my House is Falling Down’ and Medway School of Pharmacy educated students with the talk ‘Modern Medicines & their Plant Origins’.


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If you would like The STEM Hub to help organise an event like this for your school/setting then please contact us today:
Email: kentandmedwaystem@canterbury.ac.uk
Tel: 01227 782662

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